Craig Hammonds decided, in January 2011, to go on a mission trip. He packed his bag and left for Papua New Guinea with two friends from church with one goal--to help with a building project for missionary friends who were ministering in the bush.
His wife, Marcy, observes, “It sounded simple enough then, but we didn’t know God was going to turn our lives upside-down by the time Craig’s two-week trip had ended.”
Marcy says she and Craig were living the American Dream. They had great jobs and two nice vehicles in the driveway of their spacious new house. “We had it all,” Marcy shares, “the nice clothes and all sorts of gadgets and things.”
Four days after Craig left, Marcy finally found time in her busy life as a working mom to sit down and watch the informational DVD that gave her more information and insights about Craig’s mission trip.
As Marcy watched, she felt her perspective radically shifting. She grew up attending church and heard about missions all her life. “I always enjoyed reading about missions, but never did I feel called to go or participate myself,” she shares.
But as she watched the video again and again, something in her heart was tearing away and changing.
“My heart was broken,” Marcy admits. “I knew without a doubt that I needed to find out more. The next day, I went on the New Tribes Mission website and completed a questionnaire. I was contacted by NTM the following evening.”
While all this was unfolding for Marcy in their comfortable home in Tennessee, Craig was busy in Papua New Guinea. Besides being hard at work on the construction project, Craig was spending hours of quality time with their missionary friends and hearing their stories. And his own heart was opening up to God’s reordering of their lives.
“There was no way for us to communicate during that time,” Marcy explains. “Craig had sent me just one email. He wasn’t even sure when I would get it or if I would get it. What I didn’t know is that Craig, on the other side of the world, was feeling the same things I was feeling at home. His email mentioned that we had to talk when he got back. He said there were changes we needed to discuss.”
Meanwhile, Marcy was exploring ministry opportunities on the NTM website. When she saw that there was an urgent need for a high school science teacher in Papua New Guinea, she was stunned. Though Craig’s college major was biology and he had been working as a chemist in a laboratory for almost 20 years, Craig “just happened” to have a minor in secondary education that he had never used.
“And I knew that teaching was something he was passionate about, since he had taught in many capacities in our church for more than two decades,” Marcy shares.
Back in Papua New Guinea, Craig’s trip had taken an unexpected turn. A decision was made to spend the last two days of the mission trip visiting a school for missionary children where the daughters of missionary friends attended—the very same school where the high school science teacher that Marcy read about was urgently needed. Shortly after his arrival at the school, Craig learned of the pressing need and felt led to talk to the high school principal about that position.
When Craig got home, he and Marcy were amazed to share with each other and learn how God had worked in their hearts individually while they were apart. They saw clearly together that His Hand was pointing to a dramatic change in their lives and His grace had prepared them both to act on that conviction.
“The very next day after Craig got home from Papua New Guinea, we went and applied for passports for myself and our two sons and that same day we put our house on the market,” Marcy says. “We knew we had been undeniably called by God to go to Papua New Guinea to serve. We were a little anxious and scared at first. But mostly we experienced a total peace and have never before felt such a sense of overwhelming freedom in all our lives.”
Craig and Marcy both quit their established careers and walked away from their secure, predictable paychecks. They began to trust God to help them find ministry partners. “No, it didn’t make sense to our human brains,” Marcy admits.
Craig and Marcy and their two sons, Caleb and Taylor, moved to Papua New Guinea in July 2011. They are serving there as associates with New Tribes Mission, teaching missionary children.
Craig says that one Bible verse in particular has meant a lot to them on this journey of having their lives turned upside-down. “We have enjoyed this verse and trusted the Lord in what it promises,” he shares. The verse is Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
“We continue to trust God completely—we know He is going to take care of us. And we feel incredibly blessed that He is willing to work through us,” says Marcy.
“We have learned to love it here. God has shown us that in our own strength we are nothing, but with Him, there is no limit to what we can accomplish. We spend much more quality time together now, not only in Scripture, but also in just talking together and laughing and being a family.”
“It’s been such a freeing experience,” Marcy continues. “The joy and peace we have now is something money can’t buy. Though we were always active members of our church and were leading a Christian lifestyle, we feel now—in many ways—as though we have been given a second chance at life. We have absolutely no regrets.”